Starring: Girish Kulkarni, Renuka Shahane, Huma Qureshi, Tisca Chopra, Mukta Barve, Kishore Kadam
Directed by Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni
From the humble interiors of Maharashtra in Valu, Vihir and Deool, director Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni moves on to a definitive symbol of modernity and advancement—the Mumbai-Pune Expressway—in his latest film, Highway. However, in crossing over from the rural to the urban, Umesh’s cinematic flair remains unscathed; in fact, it grows more ambitious. His nimble play with images and sound is evident in the opening sequence itself. The camera rushes along in a chawl with one of the characters, moves out to the streets and then frames him against the backdrop of the tattered chawl with a spanking highrise looming fiendishly behind. Mumbai’s disparities summed up succinctly and without quite stating anything.
From here on we flit between a variety of characters and vehicles travelling on the expressway. It’s about individuals, their lives and relationships and also the associations formed, however tenuous, while being boxed within the cars, cabs, buses and trucks. The camera darts from one to the other in a frenzy. These are lives on the edge, ostensibly in a perennial rush, but look deep within and they are actually in a logjam. The traffic holdup, which brings their journey to a halt, becomes a metaphor for their own individual gridlocks. And it also offers a way out of it, to introspect and reflect and, perhaps, to unshackle themselves.
Umesh’s canvas is wide. There are 30-35 characters jostling for screen...